61 agencies after warrantless access to Australian telecommunications metadata

Australia Post, the RSPCA of Victoria, and the Victorian Taxi Services Commission are among 61 agencies in Australia seeking warrantless access to metadata stored by telcos.

The names of 57 agencies that are seeking to gain access to telecommunications metadata stored on Australian residents without a warrant have been released under a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

The names of four agencies have been redacted, with the Attorney-General's Department (AGD) previously saying that disclosing the names of these agencies would be contrary to the public interest.

The FOI request originally asked for correspondence from organisations seeking to gain access to stored telecommunications metadata. The department denied this request on practical grounds, stating that 2,661 pages spread across 288 documents were related to such a request, and that 45 third parties needed to be consulted before the information could be released.

Eventually, the request was narrowed down to merely a list of agencies looking to be declared as an enforcement agency as defined under the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act.

"Agencies objected to disclosure on the basis that it would compromise the trust they place in the Commonwealth," AGD said last week. "During consultation, these four agencies clearly indicated that disclosure of this information would damage the relationship between the department and the relevant agencies, and could affect any future cooperation with the department."

The full list of agencies is as follows:

  1. Australian Financial Security Authority
  2. Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency
  3. Australian Postal Corporation
  4. Australian Taxation Office
  5. Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre
  6. Civil Aviation Safety Authority
  7. Clean Energy Regulator
  8. Department of Agriculture
  9. Department of Defence
  10. Department of the Environment
  11. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  12. Department of Health
  13. Department of Human Services
  14. Department of Social Services
  15. Fair Work Building and Construction
  16. National Measurement Institute
  17. ACT Revenue Office
  18. Access Canberra (Department of Treasury and Economic Development)
  19. Bankstown City Council
  20. Consumer Affairs - Victoria
  21. Consumer, Building and Occupational Services - Tasmania
  22. Consumer and Business Services - SA
  23. [redacted]
  24. [redacted]
  25. Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry - Queensland
  26. Department of Commerce - WA
  27. Department of Corrective Services - WA
  28. Department of Environment and Heritage Protection - Queensland
  29. Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources - Victoria
  30. Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning - Victoria
  31. Department of Environment Regulation - WA
  32. Department of Fisheries - WA
  33. Department of Justice and Regulation (Consumer Affairs) - Victoria
  34. Department of Justice and Regulation (Sheriff of Victoria)
  35. Department of Mines and Petroleum - WA
  36. [redacted]
  37. Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries) - NSW
  38. Environment Protection Authority - SA
  39. Greyhound Racing Victoria
  40. Harness Racing New South Wales
  41. Health Care Complaints Commission - NSW
  42. Legal Services Board - Victoria
  43. NSW Environment Protection Authority
  44. NSW Fair Trading
  45. Office of Environment and Heritage - NSW
  46. Office of Fair Trading - Queensland
  47. Office of State Revenue - NSW
  48. Office of State Revenue - Queensland
  49. Office of the Racing Integrity Commissioner - Vic
  50. Primary Industries and Regions South Australia
  51. Queensland Building and Construction Commission
  52. Racing and Wagering Western Australia
  53. Racing NSW
  54. Racing Queensland
  55. Roads and Maritime Service NSW
  56. Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) - Victoria
  57. State Revenue Office - Victoria
  58. Taxi Services Commission - Victoria
  59. [redacted]
  60. Revenue SA
  61. Victorian WorkSafe Authority

The Australian data-retention laws allow the nation's approved law-enforcement agencies to warrantlessly access two years' worth of customers' call records, location information, IP addresses, billing information, and other data stored by telcos.

metadata-historical-access.png
(Image: Screenshot by Chris Duckett)

Also contained within the FOI documents was a list of agencies that previously had access to telecommunications data. The list was sorted alphabetically along with redactions in place.

  1. Access Canberra (Department of Treasury and Economic Development)
  2. ACT Revenue Office
  3. Australian Financial Security Authority
  4. [redacted]
  5. Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency
  6. Australian Postal Corporation
  7. Australian Taxation Office
  8. Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre
  9. Bankstown City Council
  10. [redacted]
  11. [redacted]
  12. [redacted]
  13. Civil Aviation Safety Authority
  14. Clean Energy Regulator
  15. [redacted]
  16. [redacted]
  17. Consumer and Business Services - SA
  18. Consumer, Building and Occupational Services
  19. [redacted]
  20. [redacted]
  21. Department of Agriculture
  22. Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (Queensland)
  23. Department of Commerce - WA
  24. Department of Corrective Services - WA
  25. Department of Defence
  26. Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (Fisheries) - Victoria
  27. Department of Environment and Heritage Protection - Queensland
  28. Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning - Victoria
  29. Department of Fisheries - WA
  30. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  31. Department of Health
  32. Department of Human Services
  33. Department of Mines and Petroleum - WA
  34. [redacted]
  35. Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries) - NSW
  36. Department of Social Services
  37. Department of the Environment
  38. [redacted]
  39. [redacted]
  40. [redacted]
  41. Environment Protection Authority - SA
  42. Fair Work Building and Construction
  43. Greyhound Racing Victoria
  44. Harness Racing New South Wales
  45. [redacted]
  46. Health Care Complaints Commission - NSW
  47. Legal Services Board - Victoria
  48. [redacted]
  49. National Measurement Institute
  50. NSW Environment Protection Authority
  51. NSW Fair Trading
  52. [redacted]
  53. Office of Environment and Heritage - NSW
  54. Office of Fair Trading - Queensland
  55. [redacted]
  56. Office of State Revenue - NSW
  57. Office of State Revenue - Queensland
  58. Office of the Racing Integrity Commissioner - Vic
  59. [redacted]
  60. [redacted]
  61. Primary Industries and Regions South Australia
  62. Queensland Building and Construction Commission
  63. Racing and Wagering Western Australia
  64. Racing NSW
  65. Racing Queensland
  66. Roads and Maritime Service NSW
  67. [redacted]
  68. Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) - Victoria
  69. [redacted]
  70. [redacted]
  71. State Revenue Office - Victoria
  72. [redacted]
  73. [redacted]
  74. Taxi Services Commission - Victoria
  75. [redacted]
  76. [redacted]
  77. [redacted]
  78. Victorian WorkSafe Authority
  79. [redacted]

Of those listed, it appears that South Australia's Consumer and Business Services is the only agency to not reapply for access.

During 2015, 3,926 telecommunications interception warrants were issued, a 2 percent fall from the year prior, and 365,728 authorisations for the disclosure of historical telecommunications data were made by agencies.

Of the agencies and departments given access to existing information or documents to enforce a criminal law over the 12-month period, and not included on either list released by AGD, or known to be an enforcement agency already, are: the Australian Fisheries Management Authority; the Department of the Environment; SA Consumer and Business Services; Corrective Services NSW; the WA Department of Environmental Regulation; Corrections Victoria; RSPCA Queensland; RSPCA Tasmania; The Hills Shire Council; the Vic Transport Accident Commission; and Workcover NSW.

A similar request was made by privacy advocate Geordie Guy, for which the department requested a fee of AU$424 to complete the request -- a fee that Guy was able to raise through crowdfunding.

On appeal from ZDNet on its separate request, the department reduced the charges by 75 percent and said the release of such documents was in the public interest as it would provide background on how the metadata legislation is operating.

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